4 Simple Strategies to Save Money on Toys
If you're like me and don't want to spend money on new toys to keep up your kid's interest in them, read on! These are also great tips if you're living in a smaller space or want to have a more minimalistic approach to your house decor (and declutter!).
I am an enneagram 2 which in a nutshell means that I would go above and beyond to help those that I love. Unfortunately for my bank account, that means I'm constantly looking online for new toys and different sets of blocks or animals to buy for little Steele. I admit that I've bought a few things and justified by saying I'll save it until his birthday (in December). I just brought out my last set of new blocks yesterday. *face palm* So now I'm hard pressed to keep his toys interesting and fresh. I don't know if my child is more abnormal than most, but he can get tired of the same stuff a 1000x quicker than I think he ought to. I've been using a few strategies to keep the toys we DO have interesting and fun to prevent myself from feeling the need to keep buying and keep trolling deal sites.
Rotate the toys you already own
We utilized this in the classroom setting to keep things engaging. Swap out a set of sea animals for a set of farm animals. Switch out your Duplo block set for a bristle block set. If you are trying to keep a range of different types of toys and if you have the ability, try to swap toys so that your child will still have access to different types of play. Dramatic play, block play, fine motor manipulatives, music, gross motor, reading, etc. Keep a few of your child's things stored and tucked away so that in 2 weeks, a month, or a season later, you can bring it back out and it's like a new toy. Voila! Free new toys!
Rearrange the toys in new places
Try putting the baskets of toys on different shelves or different places in the room. If possible, try rearranging the furniture! The novelty alone of new placement could spark creativity and imagination in new ways.
Repurpose the toys in new ways
We have these small plastic sea animals. We have gone to Monterey quite a bit and Steele is really interested in ocean life. They are rather small and likely to get lost if I left them out on a shelf, but we have played with them in play dough, in water play, in the bath, frozen in ice, and in cornstarch goop. Be aware that some toys don't mix well with sensory/messy materials such as bristle blocks and play dough. OMG. What a nightmare to clean out after! Don't make the mistake I made & consider yourself properly warned.
Pictured here, I brought out one of Steele's favorite books Freight Train by Donald Crews. We spent some time looking at the freight trains and talked about how we could recreate that with the blocks. Not only were we getting quality time interacting, now there were added layers of learning and cognitive development behind the block play. Making connections between literature and the physical world = win!
Reserve toys for a "special day"
This was a novel idea that I discovered all by myself! I'm so proud of it. Initially it began because our house is small and I don't a million blocks out at a time. Because who cleans them up? Me. (Steele is getting better at cleaning, but usually me.) I only kept out 25% of the bristle blocks from the giant container we bought. He wasn't super interested in them sadly. Recently, he's been making trains with the pieces. This week, I went to the closet and brought down the giant container and we dumped all the pieces on the ground. He was stoked! There were shapes that we hadn't had out that he was super excited to use to create trains. After concentrated play for a good hour or so, we moved on to snack time and we swapped out some of the new pieces with the old, and put away the majority of the bristle blocks back in the closet. He has been excitedly talking about the wheel bristle block which I will be keeping for those special moments.
I'm not trying to be a mean person and withhold something he likes. If anything, it helps create opportunities to use our imagination to use what we have out to simulate wheels or a window for example.
The beautiful thing about parenting is that there are a plethora of decisions to make and everyone has a different way to make decisions. If my suggestions feel helpful, I hope that you can try them out soon!